Greedy George

SO… I decided to start writing some flash fiction again, and as Miranda is already running #MidWeekFlash with photo prompts, this seemed like a good place to start. Right. It’s been a while. Deep breath. Here goes…

Week10Phot

Greedy George

George took a bite of his burger and felt the grease oozing down his chin. OH GOD IT TASTES SO GOOD. George had been a vegetarian for 27 years. Ever since that school fete where his (ex) best friend, Harry Baudsley had eaten a burger from the van and puked chunky yellow vomit all over George’s brand new trainers. Two cycles through the washing machine and they were clean, but the logo had faded and it was obvious that they were nothing but cheap fakes.

Like George.

It’s not what he’d planned for himself in life. When the teacher had asked him, aged 10, what he wanted to be, he’d said A LAWYER, LIKE MY DAD (because back then, it seemed like his dad could do no wrong, and it was like that right up until the day when he got arrested for some dull and boring tax evasion and his mum had told him to ROT IN HELL.) So George had taken another route, and anyway, being a con man was a hell of a lot more fun than being a lawyer, right?

He’d done well on this latest venture: THE HOLIDAY SCAM. It’s amazing how gullible people can be when they let their greed cloud their pea-size brains. He used one of those buy and sell websites, always a different name, different email, but the same old story – I can’t make this amazing 5-star luxury holiday due to illness but I forgot to take out insurance, I can  transfer it to you, and I don’t mind losing out… if you want to take my place, CALL ME. He took more calls than his cheap phone could handle. He fleeced more fools than a box full of foolish.

Then he got greedy… too greedy… as greedy as the greediest of the greedy fools.

He tried a new scam. It involved his own magical mystery tour. He set up a fake outdoor adventure company. Got people to turn up to a secret location, where he’d trick them and rob them and leave them to find their own way home – miles away, with nothing but the clothes on their backs – no money, no phones… and when they made it home, they’d look for his number and it’d be gone. His website would be gone, always rerouted some way that no one could ever find it.

Every time he made bundle of cash, he’d stroll down to the park, and he’d sit by the burger van, under the canopy of dark, spindly trees… and let the smell of frying onions tempt him in… but he never touched one. He still couldn’t get the image of Harry Baudsley and the yellow vomit on his brand new trainers out of his head.

UNTIL NOW.

‘Hey…’ the man from the van called to him. ‘I see you here all the time. How come you never eat one of my delicious burgers? I’m offended!’

‘Nah, nah,’ George said. ‘I don’t eat meat. I’m a vegetarian.’

‘SURE you are,’ the man from the van said. ‘Until you try one of these…’

George stared at the man. There was something weird about his eyes. Something shiny and twirling and bewitching. He stared, and found he couldn’t look away. Eventually, he said, ‘Sure… OK. Maybe just a bite.’

So he took that bite, and let the grease run down his chin, and he flashed back to the image of Harry and the trainers and he blinked and blinked, let the smell of the frying onions lift him away… and he felt great. FOR A MOMENT. Then he started to feel swirly and dreamy. The burger dropped from his hand, although he didn’t feel himself letting go of it. The man from the van came out around the other side and he spoke, but his voice seemed to come from far, far away… and he said:

‘You don’t remember me, do you?’

And as George fell to the floor, he remembered… he remembered the first man that he conned for £5000 for the holiday to the Maldives that never existed… the man who said he was taking his wife, and his sick child, because it might be their last ever holiday together, the man who said he would GET HIM for this, ONE DAY…

ONE DAY…

The last thing George saw was the shapes of the trees, their swirling twirling branches as they spun round and round, their vine-like tips caressing and strangling and choking. Until the last few breaths fizzed and popped from him as his cheap fake life slithered into the damp grass, leaving nothing but a greasy stain.

* * *

You can read the other entries HERE.

Advertisements

Go on a Crime Spree and get short stories for free!

Taking a break before you dive in to your next book? Not sure what to read next? Maybe you haven’t read any (or many) short stories before, or maybe you think you don’t like them (?!) This is your cue to give them another chance, and perhaps to try out some authors you might not have read before . . . for free!

For a limited time only, you can download FREE short stories from 12 top UK crime & thriller writers, including: Mark Edwards, Harry Bingham, Katerina Diamond, C.L. Taylor, J.F. Penn, Angela Clarke, Lucy Dawson, Rebecca Bradley, Simon Toyne, Cal Moriarty, Marnie Riches (and ME!)

So why don’t you put the kettle on, make yourself comfortable, and get reading 🙂

* * *

GET YOUR FREE eBOOKS HERE

Please note: If you’ve already signed up to my mailing list, you can get my short story collection featuring ‘As Black as Snow’, ‘The Outhouse’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ by clicking on the book cover below (otherwise you might be signed up twice . . .)

 

Short Story Collection: Face Off #Review

To celebrate the 4th July – here’s a short story collection from The ITW featuring a whole host of thriller writers from the US (and more…)

From the blurb:

In this unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s favourite crime writers bring you original, co-written short stories featuring their much-loved series characters.

Edited by international bestseller David Baldacci, this exclusive page-turning collection is one of a kind. You’ll find stories featuring:

  • Lee Child’s Jack Reacher + Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller
  • Ian Rankin’s John Rebus + Peter James’ Roy Grace
  • Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch + Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie
  • Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme + John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport
  • Linwood Barclay’s Glen Garber Raymond Khoury’s Sean Reilly
  • Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper + Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani
  • Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone + James Rollins’ Gray Pierce
  • Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren + MJ Rose’s Malachai Samuels
  • T. Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona and John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt
  • Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn + F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack
  • Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child’s Aloysius Pendergast + R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy

A couple of my favourites…

Rebus vs Grace

When a dying man confesses murder to Edinburgh’s Detective Inspector Rebus he has no choice but to enlist the help of Brighton’s finest, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, to investigate the murder of a rocker killed by a mod during the 1964 riots. Rankin and James’ lead detectives work well together, with a bit of friendly sparring and a combined investigative knowledge that leads to the unexpected revelation that the murdered man is not actually dead… with cameos from Rebus’s and Grace’s familiar sidekicks, this is a neatly plotted little tale penned by two of the UKs finest crime writers.

Barclay vs Khoury

In typical Barclay style, what starts off as an innocent trip for chicken nuggets ends up in a taut car chase, featuring a ten year old girl with attitude and one of the FBIs most wanted – a man with the means to destroy the world. Khoury’s FBI agent, Sean Reilly and Barclay’s most unlucky property developer, Glen Garber, are an unlikely yet perfectly matched pair in pursuit of the most important things in their own worlds. This short story moves at breakneck speed, seemingly covering an entire thriller novel in just enough pages to read with your bedtime cocoa.

*

Thanks to Stephanie Melrose at Little, Brown for the advance copy and Amanda at  Simon & Schuster PR for the blog tour info.

About ITW:

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas. One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre. For more information, visit: www.thrillerwriters.org.

Off The Record 2 – At The Movies #OTR2

I haven’t posted anything here for a while, but that’s not because I’m a slacker… it’s actually because I’ve been doing a lot of writing – which was my main aim after Harrogate (it was also to get the first draft of my novel finished, but that’s another post, coming soon…)

So I’d like to tell you about one of the things I’ve been up to.

You might have heard of a pretty cool short story anthology called Off The Record, where all the stories were based on song titles and all the proceeds went to charity… if not, you can download it for kindle here.

After the success of the original, editor Luca Veste has gone and created another one (this time with the help of Paul D. Brazill). It features stories from the likes of Helen Fitzgerald, Clare McGowan and Steve Mosby to name just three (the full list is here)

Again, the proceeds will be donated to literary charities (National Literacy Trust – UK and Children’s Literacy Initiative – US), but this time, instead of songs, the stories are all based around a diverse range of movie titles such as ‘Dead Man Walking’, ‘The Graduate’ and ‘Gregory’s Girl’… and also, ‘Pretty Woman’ – which was written by me. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be invited by Luca to submit a story… and I’m delighted to be included in this collection with so many fantastic writers. I don’t really want to tell you much about ‘Pretty Woman’ as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who decides to read it, but all I will say is that it’s of the crime genre, and it ain’t pretty!

It’s out on 26th September on Amazon – and I really hope you’ll take a look. A short story collection with a great cover, filled with great authors and great stories and all for a great cause – what more could you want?!

(note to self: buy new thesaurus)

*

Some of the other contributors have also blogged about the collection – please go and take a look (I’ll update when I have more)

  • James Etherington blogs about OTR2 here
  • RJ Barker blogs about OTR2 here
  • Erik Arneson blogs about OTR2 here
  • Mel Sherratt blogs about OTR2 here

National Literacy Trust: The reading charity of choice

Well folks, as promised… here are the details of the charity that I’ve chosen for donation of all royalties from the sales of the Once Upon A Time short story collection…

Ta da…

It’s the National Literacy Trust

I spoke to Lorna Taylor, Corporate Partnerships Manager, and she sent me a few facts and figures about literacy in the UK that might shock you…

  • One in six people in the UK struggle with their literacy (that means that their skills are below that expected of the average 11 year old)
  • One in three children in the UK don’t own a book of their own
  • 42% of UK firms are dissatisfied with school leavers use of English.
  • 12% of employers provided remedial literacy training for graduates.
  • 22% of men and 30% of women with literacy below entry level 2 live in nonworking households.
  • Men who improve their literacy rates see their likelihood of being on state benefits reduced from 19% to 6%.
  • Men and women with the poorest literacy or numeracy skills were the least likely to have voted in the 1987 and 1997 general elections.
  • Individuals with low literacy levels are more likely to live in overcrowded housing with reduced access to technology.
  • A literate family is less likely to experience divorce, as divorce rates amongst those with high literacy are low, and significantly lower than those with poor literacy.

The trust do a hell of a lot to help with these issues, for both children and adults – you can read  more about the projects here.  But like all great charities, they rely on donations to help them achieve their goals.

Did you know that:

  • £7 could give a child a free book and motivate them to read through an inspiriational event.
  • £10 could support a reading session for three families, helping them gain the skills they need to support their children’s literacy.
  • £20 could allow two disadvantaged teenagers to improve their communication skills in preparation for working life.

As I may have said somewhere before, I think short stories are a great way to encourage reading – not just for us with our busy lives, but for others, where reading even one of our 1-page tales is a massive achievement.

Something to think about…

**************************************************************************************

You can order copies of the Once Upon A Time anthology via Amazon, here (UK) and here (US).

[Hopefully on kindle soon, too – I’ll update when it’s available]